Thoughts Three Years After Art School

"Abstract #12" oil on canvas 46" x 56" © 1994 Marilyn Fenn

“Abstract #12”
oil on canvas
46″ x 56″
© 1994 Marilyn Fenn

(written in 1996)

It’s been 3 years since I left art school. I’ve been painting and drawing nightly for awhile — it’s amazing how I’m starting to really ‘get’ some of the things I heard in art school, but somehow didn’t make it all the way through from my ears and eyes to my brain to my hands and brushes.

It was such an immersive and exciting experience to be in art school in Chicago, always doing, thinking, breathing, reading, seeing, smelling, tasting art, and always surrounded by others like me. At times it seemed like I was experiencing a sensory overload – I was like a kid in a candy store – there was so much I wanted to do and see – so much I DID do and see – our museum (hundreds of times), other museums, galleries, artist talks (like Ross Blechner and John Cage), school art openings and art openings in galleries, participating in some art shows, art camp at Oxbow, watching the beautiful iron-pour from the roof of the painting studio there, the sunset over Lake Michigan just like the painting we had seen in a slide just days before, parties, cheap dinners at great ethnic restaurants, a few nights out on the town, listening to great Chicago Blues, the occasional movie, the zoo, free music at Grant Park, riding my bike along Lake Michigan, riding the El, sliding on ice, trying to drive through snow. Getting in touch with the language and culture of my ancestors (which is so easy to do in Chicago, and so hard to do in Texas); having gobs of friends of so many ages from all over the world.

Lessons Learned (Belatedly)

With all that going on, plus full-time classes and part-time working, it’s great to discover years later that somehow the lessons I kind of missed then were planted somewhere inside that didn’t manage to get lost.

Such as:

  1. Simplify!  Simplify shapes, strokes, colors.
  2. Use any color you want for anything – experiment, see how far you can go — it’s your little painted world, after all.  Why be constrained by the colors of reality?   OR, why not aim for the colors of reality, if that puts lead in your pencil, so to speak.
  3. Enjoy what you do…don’t let it get tedious, don’t have shoulds or should-nots (hmmm, is that a ‘should-not?’); explore, discover, expand, have a blast!  Allow yourself to be filled with the excitement of enjoying and immersing yourself in the process and the moment…get lost in your creations…

Leave a Reply

One of the worst things an artist can do is stagnate into a certain style or genre for life. It’s all about growth, and the growth of the artist should never stop.

— D.C. Watson
Find Previous Posts:
Comments on My Paintings
  • So richly colored!! Enchanting painting for Enchanted Rock!
Gallery of Recent Paintings
Composition Number 8, 2013 - Acrylic on panel - 12 x 9 - © 2013 Marilyn Fenn Easter Confection - Oil on canvas - 4 x 4 - © 2015 Marilyn Fenn Untitled 2015-017 -  Oil on Canvas - 12 x 12 - © 2015 Marilyn Fenn Untitled 2015-029 - Oil on Canvas - 10 x 10 - © 2015 Marilyn Fenn